Candidates O’Rourke and Bennet Release Housing Plans
Beto O’Rourke, a Democratic candidate for president and former U.S. Congressman from Texas, recently released a housing plan that aims to bring down rent by building six million housing units and rehabilitating existing public housing. According to his plan, low-income housing funded by LIHTCs wouldn’t be eligible to return to market rate after 15 or 30 years. Currently, investors get the tax credit while taxpayers subsidize construction of units that could become market rate or condos in the long run. O’Rourke would require that all new developments receiving the more generous 9 percent credit be permanently affordable.
O’Rourke’s plan also proposes a $400 billion investment in the Housing Trust Fund (HTF) over 10 years. It would invest $50 billion to rehabilitate public housing and $10 billion for rural housing. The plan calls for fully funding Housing Choice Vouchers for all very low-income families and for helping voucher holders move to areas of opportunity. It includes measures to ensure housing, homelessness prevention, and other protections for formerly incarcerated individuals, victims of domestic violence, LGBTQ+ people, and youth experiencing homelessness. And it combats state and local exclusionary zoning laws and bans source-of-income and other discrimination, protects fair housing rules, provides a national right to counsel for those facing eviction, and more.
Senator Michael Bennet also has released a housing plan. His plan would expand the LIHTC program. It would reform the LIHTC by increasing allocations for states by 50 percent, adjusting the minimum credit rate, increasing incentives to target vulnerable communities, preventing NIMBYism from blocking affordable housing, and increasing housing in areas near good jobs, good schools, and transit. He states that his administration would prioritize developments that provide for permanent affordability so that investments made in affordable housing by the federal government today will remain affordable for generations. According to this plan, this will create an estimated 550,000 additional, affordable units over the next decade.
A Bennett administration would also support main street revitalization projects with LIHTCs. The housing plan says it will provide high-poverty urban communities, as well as small towns and rural communities who have suffered from disinvestment with $20 billion over 10 years for main street revitalization projects. This flexible funding can be paired with other tools, like low-cost multifamily housing financing and the LIHTC to refurbish old buildings and create new, affordable housing to revitalize downtowns across America.